How does smoking affect my wound?

There are several effects of smoking that can cause problems with wound healing.

Firstly, the carbon monoxide within cigarettes reduce the amount of oxygen that is carried by blood cells. This means less oxygen is travelling to the healing wound. This can increase the wound healing time and subsequently result in wound breakdown or wider scars.

Secondly, the nicotine causes a problem by causing vasoconstriction (blood vessels close up). This results in no blood or oxygen or nutrients at the wound and no way of the breakdown products to be filtered away. This can lead to wound breakdown; infection and subsequent sub-optimal results. The effects of nicotine last 45-60 minutes following a cigarette and therefore can leave the healing wound without a blood supply for an hour or more.

The use of e-cigarettes with nicotine; nicotine patches; or nicotine gum has a similar effect and needs to be avoided.

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